Thursday, January 31, 2013

Undersized Urbanite; January Progress

First, a slight update on my concept;

There are a couple ways of approaching Steampunk. One way is to put random gears on stuff until it looks cool, and another way is to think about everyday objects and imagine how they would be made if the world was cast into a dystopic, modern technology-free future. I've decided that the tiny residents of my house are not in a dystopia, but rather Steampunk fans themselves. So some stuff is going to look like it would work in a dystopic future(hardcore fan-work) and other things are just going to look cool(gluing gears to stuff is fun?).

Now my progress report;

The Steampunk Fridge.
For some reason, miniature fridges seem to be an issue with me.
My mother's old dollhouse had one (either a Marx or a Renwal, I'd have to check), but it was just a plastic form of a fridge-didn't open. It was basically just a hollow rectangle.
My old Playschool house never had one(which I didn't even notice until now, score one for childhood imagination), Barbie never had one(random box that I pretended was a cooler, another point for imagination), and even now they prove difficult to come by.

On the cheap, I managed to buy an icebox that I dislike and have yet to find a use for, and a defective 80's looking fridge that needs new hinge pins just to keep the doors from falling off-Actually that one is perfect for Billy, but right now I need something Steampunk and so I'm making one (I foresee most of this house being custom work).

I would like to thank Karin for explaining monitor-top refrigerators and how they work. It got me thinking in the right direction.

During a google search for reference photos I happened to find out that Brae has one (in miniature). I think it's in her Haunted Heritage house. I wasn't following her blog at the time (clearly I haven't read back posts), and even if I had been, I don't think I would've just decided to use this type of fridge. The white enamel finishes that most of these old fridges have didn't scream, "Steampunk", on their own, but after seeing some aged and refurbished versions online, I think I can make it work.

Actually making dollhouse furniture is kind of new territory, but I've fixed enough vintage pieces that I thought I could manage. This is (hopefully) the most complicated piece I have to build for this project. I used the 80's fridge to get the measurements, Adobe Illustrator to make a paper mockup/template, and here's the construction montage;
(yeah, that's about right)

It's made out of bass & balsa wood, polymer clay, cardboard, paper, and aluminum wire.

I primed it with gesso. The inside will probably be white(as with most fridges), but the outside is still up for debate(won't be white though). The muslin I used for hinges and some of the black clay areas will be painted to look like metal because it's not quite steampunk without those elements.

So that's the fridge(so far).


While waiting on part of the fridge to dry, and watching, "Switched at Birth" (trying to figure out what the heck was going on), I added the wood panel sections to the exterior.

And then I started on the crawl space. The room's half the height of the other rooms, and a crawl space, so I imagine that the residents wouldn't spend a ton of time or money decorating the place. They spend so little time in this room, that the half door doesn't even get a door knob. Just a rope pull, once I've finished painting everything.

I used some scraps from my exterior template to make back and side stone walls. It looked a little too cave like, so I swapped one wall out for wood paneling.

I also decided to start painting the stonework. Took the ugliest dark brown I had, mixed it with dark silver & gold metallic paint and gave everything a thin wash. Now it's various shades of dark brown with metallic flecks throughout. It's going to get a few more coats of paint (I'm starting dark and getting lighter as I go), but now that the darkest part is done and the stone edges have been painted, I can work on the grout.

...I might actually get this whole thing done by May.


  1. Great projects and great photos - the 1920's fridge is awesome. Please share how you made the aluminum shelves for the inside? Troy

    1. Thank you. Glad you like it.

      I'm actually in the middle of writing another post(different subject), but since you asked, I'll try to include more on the shelving sometime next week.

  2. Nice work on the fridge. I'm considering making furniture too, if I can get it done by May, myself...

    Still can't get over how great the egg crate stone looks.

    1. At the rate I'm going, my final entry is going to be an empty house, with a fridge. And maybe a new roof. XD

      And I'm really surprised by the egg cartoons too. I love how it's turned out so far.